British and Irish Divers Urged to Submit Images to Native Oyster Quest
The Native Oyster Network is calling on British and Irish divers, snorkellers, fishers and other marine enthusiasts to submit their pictures and/or videos of native oysters to its 'Native Oyster Quest' photography competition.
The Native Oyster Network, a collaboration between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the University of Portsmouth, is part of a campaign to help save the UK's native oyster populations which have declined by 95 per cent over the past 200 years. Most oysters now found around the British and Irish coasts are the invasive Pacific Oyster.
The photography competition was lauched to help bring oysters into the public awareness as an animal that has a much greater importance to the environment than it does to the restaurant trade.
'Throughout our restoration work, one of the barriers we’ve come up against is not having images of native oysters in the wild,' said Alison Debney, ZSL’s Senior Conservation Programme Manager. 'Trying to explain the importance of a species to people when they’re only ever framed as a seafood dish can be a struggle.'
Despite the competition being launched shortly before the coronavirus lockdown took effect, more than 20 photographs have been submitted, with images of native oysters taken by divers in Falmouth, Chichester Harbour and Western Ireland. But, now that lockdown has ended and diving has been allowed to resume, more pictures are needed.
'Oysters provide enormous benefits in the form of ecosystem services; nurseries for wildlife, clean water and in abundance, removal of carbon from our environment into their shell to name a few,' said Debney. 'Whether you’re a diver, photographer, fisher or simply live near a coast – we need your help. The native oyster is a forgotten British treasure that needs the public’s support during this long road to recovery.'
The competition will run until 30 September 2020. The winner will win a one-day advanced photography workshop hosted at ZSL with a professional photographer and National Geographic Explorer, Dave Stevenson and a BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) diving membership. Runner-up prizes include a BSAC membership and a £100 voucher towards completing any PADI training also generously donated by the Oyster Diving Company.